Yesterday I built insulators and added wire to the telegraph poles that line the railway right of way.
Depending on era, the Port Rowan branch had a single wire telegraph line or a two-wire telephone line. I chose the single wire because I haven’t seen it modelled as often as more traditional pole lines.
I located the telegraph line based on prototype photographs and was pleased that it I could run it on the backdrop-size of the tracks through Port Rowan and St. Williams, as this would keep the telegraph line out of the way for operators – a particularly important consideration for me, since I like to wear cufflinks which would surely snag in a telegraph line!
I used EZ Line – the same stuff I used for the right of way fences through St. Williams – although for the telegraph line I was careful to not tension the EZ Line as I wanted it to arc from pole to pole. It was tricky to do, and the amount of drape varies between each pair of poles, but I like the effect regardless.
The line simply terminates on the last pole each end of the layout. When I build the Port Rowan station, I’ll connect it to the telegraph line. But since the station at St. Williams is finished, I added an anchor to one corner of the station and strung a line from the station to the rear of the adjacent pole. The connection to the main telegraph line is behind the pole, so I didn’t bother modelling it. You can just see the station connection over the top of the truck cab in this view:
(To install the anchor, I had to remove the station from the layout – a process that required disconnecting the mechanism that operates the train order board. It worked as expected, which is a relief. While I had the station off the layout, I also painted some black onto the interior walls and order board mechanism and added glass to the door and window.)
I did this because I needed to get the telegraph line past the Lynn Valley water tank. As the above photo shows, the tank is located on the far side of the tracks from operators and is surrounded by trees. On the prototype, the telegraph ran on short poles across the track from the tank, which would place them on the aisle side on my layout. But that’s okay, because there’s no need to reach into the layout through the Lynn Valley during the course of an operating session.
I installed the telegraph poles ages ago, but deferred on adding insulators while I searched for a suitable source. In the end, I built my own.
I used scale 4″x4″ and cut a bunch of pieces a scale 16″ long (or, 1/4″ in our 1:1 world), as shown at “A”. I measured 4″ from one end and marked each bracket with a pencil (“B”), then cut the strip wood at an angle from pencil to end. Discard the scrap (“C”) and lightly sand the cut edge if required, and voila: a bracket (“D”).
As the photo shows, I drilled into the square end of the bracket, parallel to the long edge. (It doesn’t matter if the drill breaks through the angled side.)
I finished each insulator one at a time. I stuck a length of .015″ wire into the hole I just drilled – but did not yet cut it. I used the wire as a handle to dip the bracket into some stain. With the bracket stained, I added a drop of thick CA to the point where the wire and bracket meet to glue the two pieces together.
Thread two beads onto the wire. Add a drop of CA to the wire at the bracket and slide the first bead into position. Then add a drop of CA to the wire and the top of the first bead, and slide the second bead into position. Now, trim the wire with a pair of side cutters, and the insulator is done:
The finished insulators and brackets are glued to the telegraph poles with thick CA – with the angled side of the bracket joined to the pole so the insulator sticks out at a slight angle as shown in the layout photos. I will admit they are a bit on the large side because I couldn’t find any smaller beads for the glass insulators – and my source had a lot of beads from which to choose. But I’m happy with the result: As the layout photos above illustrate, the insulators catch the light nicely and if I’m going to scratch-build little details like this, I’d like them to be big enough for people to see.